16-Year-Old Josh Pierson Proving He Belongs in IMSA, WEC Title Chases

Photo credit: Jakob Ebrey/Courtesy Greg Pierson

Photograph credit history: Jakob Ebrey/Courtesy Greg Pierson

As a whole-time driver in the LMP2 lessons of equally the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the European-dependent Entire world Endurance Championship, American Josh Pierson is doubling his racing exciting this 12 months.

He is driving some of the world’s most extraordinary race vehicles and competing with some of the very best motorists in the organization on some of the world’s largest and most historic phases. Later this thirty day period, he’ll be racing in the 24 Several hours of Le Mans.

No strain. No tension at all.

And we nearly forgot to point out a single issue. Josh just turned 16 in February.

“Fortunately, I assume persons are really very good about just looking at my tough card and letting me stroll in,” Pierson explained to Autoweek when asked if his youthful glimpse has been a factor in a thing as basic as finding inside of the ropes on race weekends. “But I assume in common, I experienced a few of gate personnel at IMSA for the Rolex 24 that type of double-glanced at me and probably questioned on their own when I walked by way of when I experienced my driver difficult card.

“But no a single has stopped me but.”

Photo credit: IMSA

Photograph credit score: IMSA

These times, rivals are also performing double-normally takes at the timing and scoring sheets that present this 16-yr-old racer in the thick of championship photograph in the two collection.

Pierson drives the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca LMP2 in the IMSA WeatherTech series. He is also racing complete time for Zak Brown’s United Autosports United states entry in the Planet Stamina Championship, along with veterans Oliver Jarvis and Alex Lynn. Pierson is fifth in the IMSA LMP2 drivers’ factors standings, and he sits next in the early going in the WEC points. Pierson, Lynn, and Jarvis gained their class and positioned fourth total at the WEC 1000 Miles of Sebring earlier this spring.

Lynn suggests that Pierson is a driver who undoubtedly does not act his age at the monitor.

“There is a handful of drivers who have bucked the age craze a short while ago, one of them getting (F1 winner) Max Verstappen,” Lynn advised Autoweek. “I feel it’s really opened my eyes when a person has the schooling and, the natural way, I would say the aptitude that Josh has. He is 16, but when you discuss to him, the way he acts—I’m 28, not precisely old—I experience like we are comparable age.

“He is extremely experienced for his yrs. The headline is his age, but when you satisfy him, you would by no means say that.”

Photo credit: Greg Pierson

Photo credit history: Greg Pierson

Pierson is not from a household of racers so substantially as from a household that loves racing.

“For a majority of time, especially not owning any background data about really the most effective route, we didn’t actually have a huge thought of what we ended up having into,” Pierson mentioned. “It was more of just like acquiring the correct individuals, and ultimately it led to traveling all more than the spot. We never ever actually assumed it would go wherever it has long gone.

“I imagine I was 7 or 8 when we started performing the journey. I really do not know if we assumed it was likely to go there, but it was one thing that me and my father equally enjoyed, and he liked coming to the track and looking at me study and have a far better final result at each function. I liked the racing and becoming guiding the wheel, wanting to maintain pursuing it, and preserving it heading.”

Good results for the Oregon native came early and generally.

“Motorsports in common is not a standard sport to select up when you are a child,” Pierson reported. “I’m surely the a person that wished to do it. It was not one thing that was pressured on me or one thing I didn’t want to do. I was pursuing it at a pretty youthful age, and I have often desired to do it. It was anything I picked up on my own. I never occur from a spouse and children of racing drivers. My dad did a tiny nearby SCCA stuff, but he did not definitely have a experienced profession in motor racing, so I was the to start with person in my loved ones who wanted to pursue it as a occupation.

“It is been that way from the beginning, and I’ve been chasing this aspiration and however am.”

Photo credit: Greg Pierson

Photo credit history: Greg Pierson

Pierson’s 1st encounter driving open up-wheel autos came in the F1600 collection at age 13. At 14 and 15, he was the youngest driver on the grid in the Street To Indy’s USF2000. He claims his significant crack came soon after paying out some time with driving mentor Stephen Simpson, who was assisting Pierson in the course of his time in the Road to Indy ladder. Simpson had what turned out to be an priceless racing relationship in former British racing driver Richard Dean, who is the co-founder of United Autosports.

“Stephen Simpson has been truly useful in working with me and instructing me some items that possibly I did not know that could be employed later on,” Pierson stated. “I consider in general, he saw possible in the athletics-vehicle aspect of items with me. In the end, that helped organize a examination session and confirmed me that I had what it took to do it.”

Pierson’s life-shifting check session with United Autosports—at age 15—came at a rather not likely put. It was a circuit wherever he had to signal a waiver to even be authorized on the monitor.

“It was a test in Austria at the Pink Bull Ring,” Pierson mentioned. “It’s a attractive observe, and it was my very first time in their P2 auto. When you go into these take a look at periods, you know deep down that there’s a great deal on the line. If they like you, they’ll want you to race with them, and it’s significant to do nicely. But that is not genuinely my attitude, mainly because if you imagine about that, you set a large amount of pressure on by yourself.

“For me, any new exam in a new car, no issue what I’m accomplishing, it is generally for me just using it session by session and slowly and gradually building up the tempo to a speedy pace—kind of figuring out the vehicle and not striving to hurry into factors. In Austria, it was taking items move by step and little by little setting up up velocity and at some point, I believe It was the future week when we ended up residence, we obtained a letter expressing they desired us to do the total Globe Stamina Championship time.

“It was variety of what started out this complete crazy notion of racing LMP2 this yr. To be truthful, if it was not for the connections, I would nevertheless be on the Road to Indy, trying to development via he ladder with the scholarships to IndyCar. We’re a approaches into it now, and we have 3 wins on the international phase. It is one thing extraordinary.”

Two of people wins arrived at Abu Dhabi in the Asian Le Mans Collection, exactly where he shared driving duties with previous Formula 1 driver Paul Di Resta.

Photo credit: Greg Pierson

Picture credit history: Greg Pierson

Veteran Renger van der Zande, who drives a Cadillac Racing DPi in the IMSA WeatherTech Sporting activities Motor vehicle Championship, is not all that astonished that a 16-yr-old can not only race in these top rated sequence, but race for wins.

“The humorous matter is that factors are transforming,” van der Zande explained to Autoweek. “These guys are on their PlayStations from when they are 5, 7 years aged, racing. In the previous, that was not the situation. Folks would get their very first go at a go-kart when they were being 10, and now they are obtaining them at 5. I place my daughter—she’s 5 decades old—in a go-kart the other working day.

“And then you are obtaining all set for cars when you are 10 or 12, and then at 16 you can race in these form of championships. It can be just remarkable.”

Van der Zande, 36, stated that he was nonetheless racing in karts when he was 16.

Pierson, in the meantime, is even now receiving utilised to the endurance racing mentality that features sharing the auto with teammates on race working day.

“It’s an intriguing emotion mainly because my complete job I have just been employed to driving with me, myself, and I,” Pierson reported. “It was a little something distinct to get made use of to, having many drivers in the automobile. But the position of it adding far more force with being aware of that if you screw up, you’re not just screwing up for oneself, I think there’s a different way you can look at it that relieves a whole lot of that stress.”

Here’s exactly where that clever-further than-his-a long time factor kicks in.

“And which is the feeling that for the reason that you have many divers in the automobile, you never automatically want to be the fastest driver, and you really don’t automatically require to be the hero,” Pierson reported. “If you seem at it that way and you believe, ‘I’ve acquired three other men in the car or truck who are helping me all through this race,’ I never need to be the hero that goes out and passes absolutely everyone and wins the race, due to the fact which is not achievable.

“So, you can appear at it that way, and say, ‘Well, they are likely to help me do this race, and it is my position just to keep the automobile in just one piece and maintain it likely. I’m not the Platinum or the Gold driver, so for that reason I do not have to be racing the Platinum or the other Gold drivers. I can just emphasis on racing the Silvers, and that’s my career. And I can aim on acquiring my vehicle back to the pits cleanly and obtaining out.

“When you glance at it that way, it relieves a ton of the strain. It’s a group activity, and they are there, and we all know that as motorists, screwing up is not anything that we ought to be overly nervous about. It is going to come about. It is bound to come about, and it has happened.”

Following up on the superior school sophomore’s plan is the 24 Hours of Le Mans June 11-12.

“I’ve developed up observing the race, and so I’m quite fired up to get on observe and expertise the observe for the very first time,” he explained. “It’s a unique location with a unique atmosphere, and I just cannot wait to get out there and drive.”

No force. No stress at all.